Today we’ve had a meeting talking about various improvements for the game as a whole. One such thing we’ve been meaning to add for a while is a proper loading screen before the game starts up: on some computers the game can take a little bit to start (we’re working on making this quicker as well!) and so it’s really nice to be able to get confirmation that you actually pressed the button in the first place.

As such, we’ve decided to add a little splash screen followed by the customary Pixel Ferrets logo (as well as our sound design teams logos) before a (hopefully) short load screen will appear until the game has properly loaded. Adding the splash picture and the logos should give the game most of the time it needs to start up everything it needs, so adding those will likely come with the added benefit of the game feeling like it’s starting up a bit quicker than it actually does as well (haha..)

We’ve also made the decision to upgrade some more menus: you already saw our work on the Trophies menu redesign last week, and we’ll continue to work on giving most of the in-game menus an upgraded look that fits better with the game’s overall aesthetic as well as work better overall – some just haven’t been streamlined enough, or have issues with the game’s various translations. More on that later!

Another thing we’ve been discussing but won’t be added until later on, if at all, is lobby systems, where you can host your game in a public listing, allowing strangers to join you from the game menu itself. While this is a neat feature for players who don’t have friends playing the game and who do not want to join a community in finding players in a similar ping distance, we feel like people are managing just fine for now and that adding it would be better left to after release, if it’s even needed then. We’ll see!

Now, let’s start work on some of the smaller menu improvements. In this post, I’ll mainly be looking at adding some flavour to the box on the left, where you can read a description of the part of the menu you’re currently in. With this new addition, you’ll get a more proper headline than the one in use right now, which is just more of the same boring white text.

We’re also adding a reward box to the trophies menu on the info box to the right, where you can easily see what you’ll get for finishing up the achievement in question. While this wasn’t totally needed, we felt it’s nice for people to be able to know the reward, so they can decide if they wanna pursue a specific trophy over the rest.

In that same box, we’re also adding another proper headline – although we’re not entirely sure it’ll look in this exact way yet, since it takes up a lot of space and we might need all we can get in order to fit the lengthier descriptions.

As a bonus, while I’m in the world of interface, here’s a little GIF featuring a battle indicator used for Bishop’s boss battle:

Okay, so time for us to take a look at that loading screen I mentioned previously! First of all, here we have the splash art that will appear before anything else. This won’t have the ‘windowed’ look, but will simply appear for a short while before the actual game window pops up:

Once the game window starts, you’ll be greeted with the familiar Pixel Ferrets logo, as mentioned before:

Followed by the three teams that have helped us bring the world of Grindea together in terms of sound effects and music:

Once that is out of the way, you’ll be greeted with the actual load screen. It’ll start like this, completely covered in clouds, but once the game finishes loading, the clouds will part ways and the pre-game menu will be revealed. To the left in this load screen, we’ll also have a random backer’s names show up as thanks for helping us get this far:

A gif showing how it all plays out once the actual game window starts can be seen here (although my computer already properly loaded the game, so there’s not much of a load screen going on here haha):

Now, some of these things are a bit placeholder-y, one of them being the fonts and overall design of the texts used. For example, I’m not too fond of the readability in the sound design teams part of the load screen, with it being on two rows and a bit hard to read overall:

So I made a couple suggestions making it look a bit more streamlined and less in your face:

For the cloudy load screen part, there was a bit of a font issue as well. Here’s what it looked like before:

And here are some suggested improvements, with this first one being my personal favourite (although we haven’t made any final decisions regarding which one we’ll pick yet):

Finally, with this new load screen appearing, I felt like the old in-game load screen between areas look a bit lame (it was one of the very first things we added to the game, after all!) so I made a little mockup of what a new version could look like, tying back to the pre-game load screen we’re implementing right now:

The text on the left will be replaced by the usual gameplay tips, I just didn’t have them on hand so I picked a random rat fact for now! The idea is that the clouds will be floating slowly across the sky, with possibly the occasional bird flying across – although hopefully the game won’t load for so long between areas that you’ll have to spend any longer amounts of time looking at it haha!

Meanwhile, Fred is working on adding and animating some new NPCs, namely the priest and apprentice that will appear in the church in Port Monnaie, as well as giving Bokus the ability to read and turn the pages of his book:

New week, new improvements! We wanted to make the Bishop boss portrait look a bit more creepy, so I did a bit of an paintover to adjust just that:

We’ve also made some additions around the card room, adding frames for each card to the wall, as well a a proper entrance (bye bye dragon floor and puzzle stuff):

With us finally deciding the visuals for the floating isle that will be the final Arcade Mode room, it was high time to add that and Arcadia itself to the world map (proper layout of the isles yet to be decided):

And speaking of the floating isle in question, I’ve started working on that as well! Here’s as far as I’ve gotten as of yet, more work to come:

Finally, Fred makes some progress with cleaning up the Bishop’s animations (have a little sneak peek), as well as adding some light effects to the cards in the card cave, which will illustrate how many cards you’ve collected thus far:

This week we’ve been talking about the fifth floor on your journey to the top of the tower! This floor will be all about the Temple of Seasons, and will begin in a wintery area in the woods, where you’ll walk through a corridor of trees that part and walk off to the sides to reveal a path before you, all while fae dart back and forth (just to set the tone a bit). This path will eventually lead you to the Temple of Seasons entrance, where the actual floor will begin.

You’ll enter a Temple of Seasons room that’s currently winter, but thankfully, Naniva appears and helps you by turning the room into spring, allowing you to enter one of three doors. This door leads to a fight or puzzle room yet to be decided, where you end up rescuing Autumn. Once you return to the first room, she will then turn it into autumn, revealing a second door leading to another fight/puzzle room where your goal is to rescue Summer. If you succeed in this and return to the first room he will turn the room into its summer version, allowing you to pass through the final door.

In this final room, you’ll battle an enraged version of the Hydra, summoned by the mirror guardian of the tower. This version of the Hydra has one more head, representing spring, thus you’ll have to battle the four seasons all at once! We haven’t decided exactly what the spring head will do yet, but one suggestion is that it’ll cause loads of bushes to grow in the area, serving either as an obstacle for you or something that will deal damage as well (by the addition of thorns). Another suggestion for a super move the hydra can make here is to turn the room into all seasons at once, using all of their powers for a short while… >:)

As for the puzzle/battle rooms, we haven’t made any fixed plans, but we’re playing around with the idea of having a special enemy in the shape of a rainbow orb, that will appear and turn the room into all seasons – only once you defeat the orb it’ll go back to normal, so until you do the rest of the enemies will be in their elite versions. We don’t want these rooms to be too complex, seeing as there’s still a ton of rooms to go through, but I think so far we have a good balance. Let’s see where the next floors take us :)

In Arcade Mode, we need a room you’ll get to once you finish the Ghost Ship, where you’ll get some sort of reward – and, if you’re powerful enough, you’ll get the chance to transcend into one final floor where an epic final boss battle awaits!

So, I’ve been making a couple of suggestions for what this room could look like, and this first one is inspired by what I’d like the final floor to look like – otherworldly, up in the sky, on floating isles with other floating isles in the distance having statues or parts of statues of Grindea on them:

The second idea is a throwback to Bishop’s realm where you’ll be battling him in Story Mode, a grim and dark realm.. In this version, the doors of the temple will open either to an intense glowing light or straight up to the sky, if you should have enough power to get there… :)

While I was sketching that room, I also went ahead and made some suggestions for the average room design in case we’d end up making regular rooms in that final floor you’ll only get to with the right power level, looking something like this:

We’ve also been talking a lot about what the final tower dungeon would look like for those that aren’t under the mirror’s influence, so I’ve been playing around with ideas for that as well. Here’s one such suggestion, featuring a lot of mirrors on an otherwise gray tower setting:

There’s a big possibility we’ll redesign or at least change the colours of the tower exterior now that we have a better idea of what the inside involves, but we’ll figure that out once we’ve completely decided on a design for the interior :)

Now, one of the many things Teddy has been working on recently has been adding a bunch of smaller cutscenes and fixes for the various new quests. One such thing is having Bishop appear during the Ghost Ship quest for a short while, and to make his appearance look as good as possible we went through a bunch of iterations. Here you can see our progress, going from pretty crude, to working our way to a more polished version:

Most things we implement go through a bunch of iterations like these, which goes to show implementing the first idea you have just the way you imagine it isn’t always the best bet :)

Meanwhile, Fred has been working on not only Bishop but Grindea herself as well:

The next thing we’ve been discussing and designing for the final dungeon is the Flying Fortress floor. In the beginning we wanted this to be quite phase shift heavy, but as we though more about it we felt the essence of Flying Fortress is more about bullet hells, so we started leaning more towards that. However, we’ve had a ton a random ideas, among others a phase shift puzzle where you need to collect items within a certain time and a bullet hell with guardians that block parts of the room with their laser beams…

In the end however, we settled for three rooms (for now, this might change), first one of those corridor where a number of orbs pass through and you have to run left and right so you pass through the orbs in the slot where one of the orbs is missing – I’m not great at explaining this in words, but you’ve already passed through such a corridor in Flying Fortress already, and this one will be pretty much the same – although we have some ideas for beams and such to make it a bit more difficult and high paced.

The second room will have a number of small platforms, 4 or more, which will get hit by a ton of missiles. The goal in this room is to phase shift to the one platform that won’t get hit by missiles and as such avoid damage. Once the timer runs out you’ll be able to proceed to the final room…

…which is all about bosses, namely Phase man – and not only one, but two of them(!), ending with a little burst of Gun-D4m. We’re pretty excited about this combo and hope you will be too!

For Seasonne, we all felt like the core of the area is the Toy Factory, but we also wanted a little dash of the regular snow area, and an appearance of Marino, since he’s a pretty big character and having Amalet stolen from you after Flying Fortress is a pretty important part of the game, after all.

As such, you’ll begin this floor by appearing in a small Seasonne-esque area with the usual Seasonne enemies minding their own business. At the end of the area is the Toy Factory building, which you enter, and find yourself in a room with a locked door, a blocked path and a chest. In the chest is a key for the locked door, but before you have a chance to unlock it Marino appears and steals it from you, dashing through the blocked path, breaking the things that blocked your path before.

The next room will be one of two challenge rooms, but we haven’t yet decided which one of these it’ll be! In one, you think you’ll have to solve a block puzzle, only for each and every block and piece of it to come alive so you have to defeat it literally by force. The second would be a lot more like the room where you battle a ton of gift boxes, only with more kinds of gift boxes with new abilities!

After that, you’ll end up in a room with a conveyor belt where you’ll chase Marino for a bit before ending up in a room where you’ll battle him along with having to dodge falling bombs and trains, much like in the later rooms of the Toy Factory!

Next, time for some mixed stuff! Your mother’s grave in Startington, some new items made for an additional part of the ghost remembrance quest in the Ghost Ship, as well as an expression for the newly added ghost you’ll find there soon:

And here’s some more new stuff, featuring bigger versions of the catalysts, new backgrounds for the temple of seasons character and enemy codex, a new set of stairs in the Port Monnaie church, and a slight edit of the Startington grave:

Meanwhile, Fred’s been working on more Bishop stuff and some new player animations, one which can be seen here:

So last week our goal was to each come up with one or a few design ideas for the first floor in the final dungeon, after which we’d go through each of our suggestions and pick our favourites, building our dungeon one floor at a time.

As we mentioned, our guidelines were to remind people of the journey they’ve made throughout the game, bringing back “old classic” events and mechanics. Some of our ideas for the first floor, representing the very beginning of the game, ranged from battling your own sword and shield, a bullet hell with wooden swords, bees circulating around you and attacking you one by one, or an arena where you battle a block puzzle that comes alive.

In the end we decided to combine a few elements of the early parts of the game, namely the arena trials, finding your shield and sword to proceed and battling the Black Ferrets on the bridge. Our main idea is that you’ll start on a Pillar Mountains looking area (perhaps even a pillar), where you have to find your sword and shield by fishing and solving a block puzzle while the Arena commentator Mr Plott comments on what you’re doing, and you’ll only be able to proceed after handing your items to Grandpa Joe who blocks a bridge over which you’ll battle an ever increasing amount of Teddy & Freddy, culminating in a battle against Vilya herself before you’ll be able to progress to the second floor, a floor which will be centered around the Pumpkin Woods.

We also decided on some details around the dungeon. Previously, we’ve decided that the thing that turns the dungeon into what it is is an ancient artefact mirror, which transforms the tower into challenges to stop you from reaching the top. As such, we want to incorporate various mirror effects here and there (like for instance, Grandpa Joe shattering into glass pieces when you show him your sword and shield, enemies spawning by appearing through mirror glass and such). We also reiterated that we want the main focus for each floor to be something iconic to each part of the game, focusing on the story beats and ‘feel’ of certain areas.

Next up, the Pumpkin Woods floor! For the this we felt the key component was the curse of the woods, making you unable to progress, and the hunt for each of the items needed to clear the curse. To capture this, our idea is to create a set of rooms with a ‘lost woods’ feel where you’ll end up back in the first room by taking the ‘wrong’ exit, and having you battle five mini bosses in a room each.

The mini bosses we have in mind here are Pumpking and Helloweed from Arcade Mode, plus a similarly difficult mini boss based around Jack o’ Lantern which will also appear as an Arcade Mode floor boss later on! We’ll also design a challenge based around the Jumpkins and Ghostys.

For the Jumpkins this will most likely involve a living-vegetable like mayhem room with loads of jumpkins, while the Ghosty challenge idea we have so far is more about finding and defeating the correct one out of a bunch that will surround you – though our ideas here are still very much up in the air. For now, our main focus around this floor is the feel of having to cleanse the wood once more, this time by collecting the items from more difficult enemies than simple elites like you had to the first time around. We’ll dice into more specific design details once we get to this floor, our overall idea holds regardless of how we design the challenges.

Once you’ve defeated all of these mini bosses and collected their key item, you’ll be able to cleanse the curse with the aid of a Grindea statue, just like in the original Pumpkin Woods, complete with a minor appearance from Bishop; after that, it’s onto the next floor, featuring the Flying Fortress! :)

Now, you’ve seen a bunch of Bishop’s attack animations made by Fred, but now that we have a basic sketch for the arena, it’s time to start some prototyping of the fight!

At the moment, Bishop has three distinct attacks/patterns, but we have plans to add more as we go along. For now it’s a sword-throwing attack, a giant scythe attack and an attack where a bunch of Bishops emerge from the ground with spears:

We know Bishop disappears a bit into the dark background when he’s towards the top of the fight area, but we have plans on making him more visible by adding a shader that makes a subtle aura or outline around him when he’s against the dark parts. Other than that, what do you guys think so far?

In Arcade Mode, it’s high time we get a proper map through which you can track your progress! As such we’ve been talking about various ways to illustrate this, ending up with illustrating them as isles:

Now, the layout of these isles isn’t in it’s finished version here, the idea is that we want to illustrate how you move upwards a bit more, so we’ll play around with how we place the isles as we move on; and as such might change the design of these isles a bit as well.

On top of that, there are two more isles missing – that of the room where you get your reward for finishing Arcade Mode, and the bonus floor you get to only if you’re strong enough! These will only be added once they’ve been made in their proper forms in the game, though, so I know exactly how to design their isles.

In Fred’s department meanwhile, it’s all about Bishop and giving him more animations! Let’s have a look:

Good evening everyone!

Have you had great holidays despite the strange year we left behind? We’ve been taking it easy, not meeting to many people – in fact, me and Fred and Fred’s brother (whom he lives with) decided we wouldn’t go anywhere and risk getting or spreading the virus, so we celebrated christmas and new years together on the island instead!

Today we got back to work, and the first thing we decided on doing is having a meeting to discuss our upcoming patches!

There are three big patches left, one featuring the final story mode stuff (except for the ending bit), where we’ll add the last bunch of backer items, some arena stuff (making you able to rebattle bosses in the arena + some bonus challenges), adding a fight with bishop and the cave where you can track your progress on how many cards you’ve found (as well as getting a special item once you’ve collected them all).

The second patch will involve Arcade Mode, where we’ll be reworking the challenge rooms to make them a bit more fun and varied, add a proper map so you can track your progress, adding a proper room to end your runs as well as a final boss battle featuring none other than the goddess herself, Grindea! We’re also gonna make sure we feel each run is varied enough and possibly add more types of rooms to make sure each new run won’t get too repetitive.

The third and final patch before proper release is the Main Story ending patch, where we’ll add the final dungeon, both endings and both final bosses (the version of the battle you face will depend on whether it’s the default or true ending path you’re on)! It’s possible we’ll save the final battle of Arcade Mode to this patch as well, so both endings come out at the same time.

We’re aiming for the first patch to be done by the end of March – however we’re not sure whether this is actually realistic or if we’re just being hyped after having some time off for two weeks! Regardless, we’ll do our best to make it happen :)

Stay tuned for our continued progress as we head into this new year together!

So the first thing for me to do is a proper house for the Trick & Treat twins. We might postpone any optional boss battle they might have been part in, but they still get a house of their own!

The first floor was made ages ago when we still had big plans for those guys, so I decided to add a bit more detail to it:

This place will also be the home of another smaller character (in more than one way) – the evil mandarine I made a portrait of quite a while ago (still remember him?)

Next up, we’re working on adding that stuff to the arena! As part of that, you’ll be able to select difficulty for the boss rebattles, and so I was tasked with making an interface for said difficulty setting:

As you can see, there will be three settings available, and they will be Default (the way the boss was when you first encountered it), Scaled (which means we scale its difficulty to your current level), and Overpowered (which will be a much more difficult version, overpowered for your current level)! I haven’t added the texts to the buttons here as they will the rendered directly in the game engine:

Working on this interface again makes me feel like it looks a little bit bland, so I feel like I might improve on its general look in the near future as well…. :)

(You know what, said and done, time to touch up these old UI graphics a little bit:)

Meanwhile in Fred’s department, it’s all about giving Bishop some more weaponry! Scared yet?

So, some more items from the list of things we’d like to include before the full release!

First off, the house in the top right corner of Evergrind City! Remember that house on the little island in the water? It used to be all broken down, then it got cleaned up, and then we have like 50 different ideas for how to use it, until we recently simply decided to move a pretty regular family into the house, which will provide you with some background story for one of the quests we’ll include in the Pumpkin Woods.

Collectors in the Fields, we’ve mentioned this before, but we really do like the idea of including more Collector NPCs out in the world, doing everyday collector stuff such as hunting items, inspecting loot, or just talking about their adventures. At the moment the collectors are pretty much only visible in Evergrind City, so we feel like adding a bunch of additional ones around the world would help flesh out the collectors as an organization.

An easter egg ending for the storyline featuring Pine & Tannie, we know a lot of you want to be able to reunite them, so we’ll make sure you’re able to do just that, if you keep your eyes out!

More treasure maps around the world (pretty self explanatory).

Plant enemies dropping seeds so you can grow them in your own house~

A mini game featuring a sound made by our sound designer NPC Fark, after which you have to guess which sound it belongs to!

So, let’s jump straight into that stuff, starting with the interior of the house on the top right isle in Evergrind City:

Next up, one of the inhabitants of the previously made house, a mother living in Evergrind City with her husband and child(ren)!

And now, another mixed bag of stuff, some expressions, a new decor for one of the rocky parts in the Dragonbone Dunes, a new icon for the arena boss rebattles, and a couple new drops:

Fred, meanwhile, has continued working on a bunch of NPC animations, some of which can be seen here:

This week, we’ll continue with some portraits, starting with a strange mandarine you’ll find in the Pumpkin Woods!

Next up, some improvements to the ship that I made previously! Adding a bunch of details and redesigning its look somewhat so make it look even more different from the other ship in the harbour:

As we’ve continued to discuss where to go from here, we’ve made some changes in our priorities for the remaining tasks. One such thing that we’ve discussed back and forth since almost the start of our process of making this game is the Memory Room, where you battle bosses you’ve previously defeated in Story Mode. We’ve never really decided on whether to keep the room around or not, but now in this hopefully ‘final’ discussion, we’ve decided on some changes that will affect it, and more specifically, the arena.

Right now, there are two categories in the arena, regular challenges and VS, though we haven’t added any modes for the later. In the future, there will still be two categories in the arena, but we’re changing it around so there will be regular challenges and boss battles instead. As such, if you go to the boss battle section, you’ll get a list of all the previous bosses you’ve defeated, and will have the option to battle them again, as you would in the memory room. The regular challenges section will remain largely unchanged, though we’re playing around with the idea of having the challenges scale to your character’s strength.

Because of this move, there will be an empty room to the left in the HQ, where the previous memory room used to be. This room will instead be changed into a sort of planning/conference room, where a few older collectors will hang around with a blackboard, planning the future quests for the collectors!

What will end up happening with the rest of the HQ will be decided in the near future, as we continue arranging these final tasks in order of importance! Stay tuned :)

Now, some additional expressions and portraits for the crew involved in the harbor quest in Port Monnaie, as well as some final fixes of the ship!

Now, in Fred’s department, he’s been busy making all sorts of characters and details, some of which include Trunk (which you’ll stumble upon as a cameo character in Story Mode):

Some sails for the ship in the harbour, as it heads off as part of the quest we’re working on:

The sprite for Fark, who will be creating a variety of sounds:

And the balloon seller, which will appear in Evergrind City during the festival:

When we came back from our week off, we quickly decided it’s time to make some more fixed plans on how to proceed with the game in the near future! As you know, we’re currently working on finishing up Story Mode and we have a long list of things we’d like to add, but we don’t want it to go on forever so our next mission will be to prioritize among the list and see what it’s possible to cut and what we definitely want to add to the game.

One such super important thing we’ve been talking about it the true ending. We’ve known for a very long time that you’ll be able to do the final battle in two different ways, one which leads to a less ideal ending and one that is the true ending, which can only be unlocked after achieving certain things within the game. We haven’t been too sure what these parameters would be before, but after our discussions today we feel fairly certain that you’ll need to do these three things:

* Read a letter from your mother, that will help flesh out the ending a bit.

* Do a Boss battle against Bishop (a fight we’ve been brainstorming on and off for quite a while, which we’re quite excited about! We actually already have the background music for this fight as well..)

* Collect all Cards!

Previously, we wanted the true ending to be quite easy to get, but with the addition of the card requirement, it’ll obviously be a lot more difficult, however, we feel that with all things considered, this will be better suited to the game (I mean, we make jokes about it all the time, but it’s still called Secrets of Grindea, right? ;))

Hopefully by next week we’ll have a more updated list of what exactly we’ll add and what things are in the risk zone of being cut in an effort to finally finish things up properly!

Now, time for a bag of mixed stuff! Some portraits, some item sprites, and a remake of the grave outside the caves in Seasonne!

Next up, a new boat appears in the desert town! Using the previous one as a base, I made some changes to its shape and colours! This ship will be in Port Monnaie temporarily, until you solve a little quest :)

Next, the portrait of one of the guys working in the docks, which will hand you a quest relating to that final quest of Steve’s:

There’s no way we could finish Steve’s story arc without yet another encounter with mushrooms, right? Well, here we go… :)

We’re back in action, and with our batteries fully recharged! To celebrate, I decided to remake the portrait of the old math genius fascinated with the number 3, making him slightly older and with his signature 3 on his clothing:

Another portrait we decided to remake is that of the ninja (again), since we decided to change the quest/secret to getting her ninja outfit! Quite interesting getting back to a bunch of remakes, but that’s because we’ve been having a bunch of talks about the future of the game and moving things around a bit (more on that later on). For now though, here’s the ninja remake in her “regular” clothes:

And of course, she also needs a version with the ninja outfit in question, the portrait which will replace the current old one. Thanks to these minor changes we’ll be able to keep the sprite itself looking as is, so less rework for Fred!

Now, since we’re on the topic of new portraits, it’s also time to introduce this little fae, who will have the very important job of polishing the ice of the frozen fae in Santa Fae!

Finally, some of the things Fred has made for the areas we’ve been working on currently, including the obstacle in Temple of Seasons that can only be removed by turning the room into spring, the ninja in her sad version after failing the trials, and the ghost haunting Seasonne!